Extraordinary Student Services at Lourdes Academy
Third-grader, Henry Lang, gets up from his desk and leaves the classroom with his peers to spend 45 minutes in the office of Lourdes Academy Student Services. Henry is not in trouble – in fact, he looks forward to his time outside the classroom each week. He will spend this class period working one-on-one with Marisa Tenaglia, a member of the Lourdes Academy Student Services team, to focus on his reading and writing skills. Henry excels in math but has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for his reading and writing work.
“Henry loves computers and is very good with them,” Henry’s mom Holly Wallsmith explains. “Many of the reading programs he works on are computer-based, so he feels like he is playing while he is learning.”
Amy Matzke is the Director of the Student Services program at Lourdes Academy. She oversees the team of three teachers who provide interventions for students who are struggling and enrichment for students who are excelling in an academic area and need an extra push to be challenged.
“The ultimate goal of Student Services is to provide our students with the learning experiences they need to become the best student they can be,” said Matzke. “We want to eliminate any barriers that might prevent a student from learning.”
The team identifies the students’ needs through classroom performance and academic testing. But for Holly Wallsmith, the benefits of Miss M’s (Matzke’s nickname) involvement in her son’s education extends outside the Lourdes Academy campus.
“I have to attend IEP meetings for Henry with the public school system each year,” explains Holly. “They are so stressful for me. It is so difficult as a parent to hear all the things your child doesn’t do well. These meetings can feel very negative. But Miss M comes with me to every one of them. She always points out the improvements Henry makes from year to year and the areas where he excels. It is such a comfort to have her in the meeting with me to help interpret what is going on and know she will review, apply, and manage the accommodations Henry needs to continue making progress. She is a great advocate for Henry. She knows him as well as I do, if not better.”
Throughout the year, Miss M coordinates with the Student Services team and Henry’s third-grade classroom teacher, Michelle Watkins, to implement ways to adjust her lessons so Henry can participate in the classroom as well. All of this is coordinated seamlessly, so Henry and the other students in the class don’t realize he receives special accommodations.
“It is important for our school to have a dedicated Student Services team so that we can provide the most comprehensive learning environment for each student, provide each teacher with classroom support, and have a dedicated point of contact for our families,” says Matzke. “We look at the whole child to ensure that needs are being met socially, academically, physically, and spiritually. It is part of what makes learning at Lourdes Academy so special.”
Holly agrees that Lourdes Academy is special. Henry isn’t her only child who receives support from the Student Services team. Her fifth-grade daughter, Kinley, is part of the math enrichment program, where she moves beyond her grade level to continue challenging her abilities.
“What brings me back to Lourdes Academy over and over again is the family environment they’ve created,” says Holly. “They actually like my children. They care about them. They understand what they need and provide it lovingly. I don’t think I could get that kind of specialized care and attention for my children anywhere else.”
If you are interested in learning if Lourdes Academy could be a good fit for your child, call the office at 386-252-0391 or email Enrollment Specialist Mirth DeWitt for a campus tour at firstname.lastname@example.org.